Suspect in wife’s killing confessed, affidavit says

Nathan Yager

A Paonia man suspected of stabbing his wife to death confessed the killing to his mother in a phone conversation before he surrendered to law enforcement, according to an arrest affidavit made public Monday.

Julie Yager, a South Dakota resident and mother of 38-year-old Nathan Yager, had called a friend Friday afternoon in Delta County to report her son’s alleged admission, while seeking the friend’s help to reach Paonia law enforcement.

Officers went to a home at 427 Delta Ave., a single-story residence Yager once shared with his wife, 34-year-old Melinda Yager, but found nothing.

Investigators later learned there was an active restraining order prohibiting Melinda Yager from contacting Nathan Yager, according to the affidavit. Embroiled in a bitter divorce, each had filed several complaints against one another with various law-enforcement agencies over child custody and harassment issues, the affidavit said. Both were also seeking control of their former home and custody of their daughter.

The Yagers attended a restraining order court proceeding in Delta on Friday morning.

The affidavit said Melinda Yager, accompanied by a friend, had just returned from the hearing when Yager received a call from friend, who told her that Nathan Yager’s pickup was parked “in close proximity” to 427 Delta Ave.

Melinda Yager sought to photograph the truck to document the incident, the affidavit.

Finding the truck unoccupied, Yager and her two friends then set out to locate her husband. Melinda Yager left on foot, while her friends searched in their respective vehicles, the affidavit said.

One of the friends reported spotting Nathan Yager around 12:41 p.m., walking along railroad tracks bordering the 400 block of Delta Avenue. The friend left her car to investigate.

“Witness (the friend) advised she continued her search and eventually located a trail of what appeared to be blood in the snow bordering the railroad tracks,” the affidavit said.

Following the blood further, the friend discovered Yager’s body positioned near the tracks and behind 413 Delta Ave.

The Delta County Coroner’s office has said Melinda Yager suffered multiple cut wounds to her neck.

Nathan Yager surrendered to police in Montrose around 3:12 p.m.

Officers observed blood on the exterior legs and lower cuffs of his blue jeans, the affidavit said. While Yager refused to be interviewed, an investigator noted bruises and cuts on Yager’s hands as well as cuts along his neck and chest consistent with fingernail scratches, the affidavit said.

A check of Colorado Bureau of Investigation records showed no prior arrest history in Colorado for Yager.

Yager, who was jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder and domestic violence, was ordered held without bond during a first court appearance on Monday. Formal charges in the case are expected to filed Jan. 19.


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